Hip hop has long been a passion of mine. Going off of that, I cannot remember the last time I have ever been so happy about the state of hip hop in the overall music industry. The year 2011 treated hip hop well, with an explosion of young, passionate, promising, and most importantly, talented. That’s the good news. The bad news for me: it makes my job of selecting the Top 5 Hip Hop Albums of 2011 extremely difficult. That’s a good problem to have, though. Well, without any further adieu, here is the list of IAWT’s Top 5 Hip Hop Albums of 2011.
5.) J. Cole – Cole World: The Sideline Story
You know it’s been a good year if I put J. Cole, personally my favorite artist, at the #5 slot. His debut album was an absolutely phenomenal keystone to what appears to be the beginning of an amazing career for the Fayetteville, NC, native. It puts a smile on my face to think back to listening to The Come Up, and now listening to this album and thinking about how far he’s come. I have a feeling that J. Cole’s name will be appearing on this list again in the coming years. Here’s my personal favorite track from the album.
Dollar And A Dream III
4.) Kendrick Lamar – Section.80
It’s great to see the Compton emcee finally getting some recognition. Section.80 is featured on pretty much every blog’s list of best albums of 2011, and it’s no different here at IAWT. Most people would put this album at #1. I couldn’t quite get myself to put this album that high, but it definitely deserves to be on this list. I don’t think there’s anyone more passionate about his music than Kendrick Lamar. That’s something refreshing to witness.
3.) Drake – Take Care
Yes, I know I claimed this was the album of the year in my review of Take Care. I was a little excited. But if there are two albums ahead of this one, then they’re all basically 1a, 1b, & 1c. This is the album Drake NEEDED to make. Doubters of his were growing in number after Thank Me Later, claiming he was suffering Kid Cudi syndrome (never would be able to live up to his first mixtape), which isn’t even true for Kid Cudi. But Drake showed us his true colors and variety of talent on his sophomore album. I still listen to it almost everyday. It’s been over a month. That’s a true testament of the quality of this album. I decided to include the song that best captures the overall scope of the entire album.
Over My Dead Body
Jordan & Pippen, Montana & Rice, spaghetti & maple syrup, and now Jay Z & Kanye. Some combinations just work. This album sort of came out of nowhere this summer, but no one’s complaining. You know you’re going to have one of the best albums of the year if you pair up two of the biggest names EVER in hip hop. “Niggas in Paris” is one of the few songs people can listen to 10 times and not get tired of it. Don’t believe me? Ask one of the millions of people who packed the stadiums during the Watch The Throne tour. With rumors of a sequel to this album coming in the next year or so, I am ecstatic. This one was almost a no-brainer.
Niggas In Paris
1.) The Roots – undun
I had to. This album is making its way up to one of my favorite albums ever. Usually when you have albums that are supposed to tell a story (like this one), the actual track-to-track listening experience is a little weird and not as enjoyable. That isn’t so with undun. It tells a story, but it’s not too obvious, which lets you listen to tracks one at a time and not make you think that you’re missing something. The Roots have never sounded better. Had this been released earlier in the year, this would’ve won Grammys. Every hip hop artist should take note: this is how you make an album. The Roots should know – they’ve been doing it since ’87.